5 toughest matchups for Panthers QB Sam Darnold in 2021

Dean Jones
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Sam Darnold
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Sam Darnold /
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Carolina Panthers
(Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Sam Darnold vs. Washington Football Team

  • Week 11 (November 21)

This will be another revenge game that the Carolina Panthers need to be wary of, with former head coach Ron Rivera, general manager Marty Hurney, and wide receiver Curtis Samuel all making their returns to Bank of America Stadium just two weeks after Cam Newton also comes back to familiar surroundings.

Of all the challenges facing Sam Darnold throughout his first season under center, this might be the toughest of all. The Washington Football Team has a ferocious defense that is only going to get better as time goes on, with first-round picks littered across the defensive line and a secondary who can make big-time plays when it matters most.

Carolina will be heavily reliant on the protection in this one. Stopping the likes of Montez Sweat and NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young is no small task, so if the duo generates some early momentum it could be a long afternoon for Darnold.

Rivera knows plenty on how to limit the Panthers. He came out on the losing end in Week 16 last season despite Carolina going scoreless in the second half, so the coach does have a blueprint that can be tweaked by centering on Darnold and how best to make him uncomfortable.

Next. Predicting the Carolina Panthers 2021 season game by game. dark

Leaning on Christian McCaffrey would be the smart way to go against such a stout unit. But when push comes to shove, it might be Darnold who is forced to come up with a big play or two in pursuit of victory.